MALABO, Guinea – Presidential spokesperson George Charamba says President Robert Mugabe does not owe anyone money as reported by a daily publication that claimed that the First Family borrowed US$30 million from former Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde.

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Robert Mugabe and his outspoken Spokesman George Charamba

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A private daily publication says Robert Mugabe reportedly told his party’s politburo meeting that he borrowed $30 million from Marondera Central MP and ousted ex-Zanu PF Mashonaland East Provincial chairman Ray Kaukonde to fund his family business in 2008, and he said he would soon settle the ballooning debt.

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“The President briefed us that we must not be shocked that Kaukonde might drag him to court over the $30 million debt which he gave the First Family years back,” the officials said.

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“The debt, we hear, was accumulated by the First Lady (Grace Mugabe) before the multi-currency regime era. He (Mugabe), however, indicated that he would settle the debt soon.”

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Speaking in Malabo where he is part of the delegation accompanying the ageing Zimbabwean tyrant, Charamba confirmed to the nation that the head of state does not borrow from a private citizen and therefore cannot owe.

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He said if the President has to borrow, he does it with the right institutions.

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Charamba said its inconceivable for the President to be associated with such a transaction with a citizen, whether in his personal or Presidential capacity.

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“Anyone making such allegations is attacking the person of the President as well as his office,” said Charamba.

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He added there is a way in which those allegations are meant to cheapen the office of the President and that can only come from a type of journalism that he described as “ill will” journalists which is animated by unmitigated malice.

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He said it is also an insult to the Presidency because it overlooks the fact that the President is a successful farmer who has been delivering tonnes and tonnes of maize, wheat, soya and mega litres of milk in its processed form to Zimbabweans.

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Charamba noted that the First Family is in business and to imply that they have to borrow is in other words demeaning the First Family.

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“We have been observing a trend in the private media where there is a malicious targeting of the First Family. The trend is in fact not erratic but systemic and sustained,” he added.

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Charamba said there is a difference between holding politicians to account and holding them up for ridicule.

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He said the behaviour of such media invites a strong legislative response and this coming at a time when there are calls for the removal of the criminal defamation law presents a challenge for the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.

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It is understood that Mugabe anticipated Kaukonde would drag him to court following his dismissal from the party, but indicated that he would soon settle the debt.

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Kaukonde lost the Zanu PF provincial chairmanship at the end of last year following allegations of funding former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s alleged plot to topple Mugabe.

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At the height of the anti-Mujuru campaign, Grace publicly lampooned Kaukonde, accusing him of bankrolling the Mujuru cabal.

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Sometime in November last year, war veterans in Marondera demonstrated against Kaukonde, accusing him of “moving around falsely claiming that Mugabe owed him some money”.

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Addressing the demonstrators last November, Zanu PF chairperson for the Women’s League in Marondera district, Ellis Rangwana, chronicled Kaukonde and his executive’s indiscretions and called for a vote of no confidence in their leadership.

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“He (Kaukonde) is also going around claiming that the President owes him money, saying he can’t do anything to him because of that, but we are saying how much are you owed so that we can pay you back?” Rangwana said.

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